T.S. Eliot's widow Valerie Eliot dies at 86

Associated Press Modified: November 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm •  Published: November 11, 2012
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Valerie Eliot used some of the windfall to set up a literary charity, Old Possum's Practical Trust. She also funded the T.S. Eliot Prize, an annual award for poetry.

She oversaw publication of a much-praised facsimile edition of T.S. Eliot's modernist masterpiece "The Waste Land" — whose bleakness was thought by some to have been influenced by his first marriage — and edited multiple volumes of letters that gave scholars new insights into the intensely private poet.

The latter was a long and unfinished project — the third volume of letters, published earlier this year, reaches only to 1927.

Valerie Eliot rarely gave interviews, but did speak to The Independent in 1994 on the release of the movie "Tom and Viv," which portrayed the poet's first wife as an adventurous spirit neglected by an unfeeling husband. Valerie defended T.S. Eliot against the allegation of neglect in his first marriage.

"Tom tried very hard and for a very long time to make a go of it, and he's never given credit for that, is he?" she said.

A death notice in the Daily Telegraph newspaper said there would be a private funeral at St. Stephen's Church, where the Eliots both had worshipped, near their home in west London.